Educator charged in Pago over sex claims, involving students


The Catholic Education system in American Samoa has a strict policy of non-acceptance of any form of sexual abuse in their schools.

This is outlined in a statement issued by the Office of Catholic Education after reports that a teacher allegedly touched three young boys in a sexual manner. 

 “With great concern for the safety of our students in our Schools, the Office of Catholic Education wishes to respond to the recent report of accusations of sexual abuse of students at Marist Saint Francis Intermediate School in Lepua.

The statement follows an incident where a 19-year-old, teacher (this is contrary to earlier reports that the accused is a sanitizer cleaner) allegedly touched three young boys inappropriately on school grounds.

Ketesemane Tupuola, who is a transgender, has since been charged and made her initial appearance in the District Court.

 “At Marist Saint Francis appropriate measures were taken when informed of this report.

 “All Parents [sic] and appropriate authorities were informed immediately. Counseling is being offered to the students,” the statement reads.

 “Our parents entrust their children to our staff that they will be safe in our schools.

 “Catholic Education has provided each school with Policies and Codes of Conduct to ensure School Leadership has clear guidelines to protect our children.”

Tupuola appeared in the District Court yesterday. She faces three charges of sexual abuse first-degree; three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and three third-degree assault charges.

Bail has been set at $15,000.

According to the government’s case, the incident came to light when a woman filed a complaint with the police on March 8, 2023.

All the victims, in this case, are 12 years old as outlined in the court documents.

It is alleged that he told police that on March 7, 2023, his first-period teacher called him to massage his right hand and that then the teacher touched him inappropriately through his clothing.

“He pushed his hand away but Sitivi kept on trying to get close. He then told his friend.

He also told his parents about the incident and that’s when a complaint was lodged with police.

Victim #2 told police that not long after the first student returned to his seat, the teacher touched him once inappropriately and he pushed his teacher’s hand away. And it’s alleged that Sitivi attempted to touch him again twice, but was unsuccessful.

The third victim told police his teacher touched him in inappropriately for about five minutes.

Last week the teacher was taken in for questioning and admitted that he called on the first student to massage his hand.

“Sitivit stated that what he did was wrong and is against school policy. He stated that he did not know that he put his hands close to the first student’s private parts.

 “And that he did not have any intention to do such things to students.” Sitivi denied having anything to do with students two or three either.

According to court filings the incident “happened within the 6th graders room of the Marist Saint Francis Elementary School.”